If it were nothing more than a character-based sitcom, I would still consider The Simpson's to be the sharpest and funniest program on television. Why? Because The Simpson's will always go that extra step to get a laugh.
Here is a truly amoral program, whose sheer blackness is a constant source of joy. For example, the seduction scene between Homer's cantankerous old dad and an equally ancient grandmother in the Springfield Old Age Citizens' Home where the two fall in love by lewdly and suggestively swallowing their medication in front of each other.
Disgusting. Disturbing. Hilarious.
There is almost no value held sacred by the Moral Majority, which The Simpson's hasn't trashed. It does it better and more consistently than any other program I've ever seen and, for that alone, I love it.
But The Simpson's is far more than just a brilliant and vicious sitcom. A lot of people I know don't like it because it's a cartoon but this is precisely what places it above the rest.
Because of animation, The Simpson's can go where other programs only dream of going.
It is not unusual to see The Simpson's suddenly transform into a loving recreation of Vertigo or Citizen Kane every detail correct but the overall effect wonderfully awry because instead of Jimmy Stewart or Orson Welles, the picture contains Bart or Homer.
Only the Simpsons could have done an episode about a fat, white escapee from a mental asylum claiming to be Michael Jackson using the real Michael Jackson's voice! Animation liberates The Simpsons, freeing them to go beyond the merely savage and into the surreal.
It also supplies the grateful viewer with other, less obvious benefits. Because Homer, Bart, Lisa are animated, we never need read about their cheesy private lives in Woman's Day. We need never see them making an embarrassing reunion special in 15 years time because all their other projects have flopped. Best of all, we never, ever have to suffer through the agony of waiting for Homer to tell us how wonderful we all are in his capacity as guest presenter at the Logies.
Praise be The Simpsons. The Simpsons, praise is!